While the link between exercise and alleviating symptoms of depression isn't clear, researchers have found that regular exercise -- 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week -- can lift mood, reduce stress and boost self-esteem as well as protect against heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
When we exercise, our body temperature rises, which calms us, and our body releases chemicals that make us feel good: endorphins and norepinephrine. It is these endorphins and norepinephrine that are released during exercise that scientists think have a hand in reducing depression. Endorphins make us feel good, they boost our immune system and they reduce our perception of pain. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical our brain makes) that also helps to improve our mood.
Did You Know?
A study published in 2005 in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" reported that brisk walking 35 minutes a day, five times a week (or 60 minutes a day, three times a week) leads to significant reduction of mild to moderate depression symptoms.